Outrigger Canoeing

Want to get out on the water, get some exercise and feel the wind in your hair? You could try outrigger canoeing, also known as ‘waka ama’. When a crew paddles in sync, it can feel like you’re flying!

Outrigger canoeing is similar to rowing or kayaking, as it involves paddling in a boat. The water sport let’s you work as a team and see some beautiful scenery in the process.

On this page we look at:

  • How This Girl Can Ambassador Chiquita turned 40 and tried the sport, even though she didn’t feel she was ‘the sporty type’
  • Joining a women’s outrigger canoeing club in Victoria
  • What is outrigger canoeing, and what does ‘outrigger’ mean?
  • What to wear when going outrigger canoeing
  • Finding a club and where to go canoeing in Victoria
  • Can’t get out right now? At-home tips

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Chiquita said ‘stuff it’ and gave outrigger canoeing a go, even though she never felt like someone who was sporty

Chiquita never thought she would be the kind of person to play sport, but as she approached her forties things changed. “As I believed in myself more, I thought ‘stuff it’, I’ll give that a go,” said Chiquita. Now outrigger canoeing – or ‘waka ama’ – connects her to nature and her Polynesian culture, and she says it “feels like flying”.

Joining a women’s outrigger canoeing club in Victoria

If you’re up for a ‘paddle’ you could give canoeing a try. There are inclusive canoeing communities in Melbourne that always welcome beginners, so you’ll be in good company from the moment you walk into a club or group.

Paddle VIC provides information, news and resources to get you started with canoeing and kayaking. This is a good place to start, as they can direct you to skills programs and sessions for beginners to get you into a boat and on the water.

There are many outrigger canoeing clubs for women that can be joined too. There are clubs in Melbourne as well as areas like Geelong, Torquay, Patterson Lakes and more, search online to find an outrigger canoeing club near you

Outrigger programs at local clubs offer recreational and competitive canoeing, with different sizes of boats and crews. They’re open to all ages, so get involved and see which one you like.

What is outrigger canoeing and what does ‘outrigger’ mean?

Outrigger canoeing is similar to rowing or kayaking, as it involves paddling a boat. What makes an outrigger canoe unique, is its structures attached to the sides of the boat to keep it extra stable and afloat on the water. ‘Outrigger’ is the name of this part of the boat which also looks like ‘leg’ that stands out.

The origins of outrigger canoeing come from New Zealand and Polynesia. These forms of boats were traditionally used to travel back and forth between the 2 countries.

Canoeing and kayaking are great sports that can be enjoyed in a team or in a boat by yourself. It’s great for building upper body strength and heart health, or it can be a lovely day out on the water, chatting to new friends and enjoying the views!

Women's rowing club

What to wear when outrigger canoeing

Being out on the water, many paddlerslike to wear shorts made of wet suit material. They’re easy to dry off at the end of the day, and yes, they also prevent chaffing!

You can also wear regular bike or gym shorts, however it’s a good idea to have a thicker material. The colder the water, the more cover you’ll need on your body to be comfortable. You’ll also need some shoes that don’t mind getting wet.

You don’t need to provide any more outrigger canoeing equipment, as clubs usually do this for you. This includes a personal flotation device (a lifejacket) which you will need to wear at all times when on the water.

Finding a club and where to go canoeing in Victoria

  • Visit the website mentioned on this page: Paddle VIC (or if you’re ready to look for canoeing spots, check out the Visit Victoria website’s information on kayaking and canoeing).
  • Google it! Have a look around at different local clubs and social canoeing groups in Victoria. If there isn’t a canoeing club near you, you may need to go a little further out. But the journey there can also be part of the fun, and you’ll get to explore some new scenery.
  • Find a Supporter in your neighbourhood: see if an outrigger canoeing club for women has registered online to support This Girl Can – Victoria.
  • Ask other women about going canoeing and kayaking – chat to your friends, family or colleagues about doing an activity together, or post a question to our Facebook page where there’s a super supportive community of women who can help you out.

Can’t get out right now?

We can’t always get out of the home to go canoeing or join a club, and that’s ok. You can still find ways to get started, and keep active until you can go out again.

If you’re new to outrigger canoeing and kayaking, you can check out some online videos and do some research about the skills that are needed. This way you’ll have a bit of a head start when you do get out on the water. You can also start looking for the best canoeing and kayaking locations in Victoria to visit.

Learn more about This Girl Can – Victoria and how it’s helping women feel good by getting activity in a way that suits them.

You might want to try another sport to find one that you like to play. Here are some you can have a go at. It doesn’t matter how you look or whether you make a mistake or not, all that matters if you’re giving it a shot.